Myth: Zero-Waste is expensive

What this myth really comes down to is personal choice, and your own definition of zero-waste living.  Zero-waste, in my definition, is quite plain: live without producing waste.  Whether or not I will ever produce ZERO trash is unknown.  I will do my very best, but our society is not supportive of zero-waste because of money.  Hence the personal choice in how you spend your money.

When I think of zero-waste living, I do not see more stuff, spending more money, or the stress of gadgets.  I see simplicity.  Making do with what I have.  Substituting, eliminating, reusing, and making it myself.

The problem I see is that businesses have caught on to us and our clever eco-movement.  And now they are doing everything in their media-power to convince us to buy all the eco-stuff you (do not) need to become a superstar zero-waster.  Enter: shiny, pretty things that show up in your IG feed.  But some of these things are totally unnecessary.

Do you NEED to buy a new set of stainless steel straws?  No.  If you are a person who drinks a lot of drinks that “require” a straw, and you don’t want to use your mouth, sure, you may want to buy a reusable straw.  Do I have some?  Yes.  Why?  Because I broke my jaw and for two months my jaw was wired shut.  I anticipated needing a lot of straws because, um, wires… so I bought them to avoid plastic.  Had my injury not happened, I would have simply stopped using straws.  They are silly.

Do you NEED to buy a new set of bamboo cutlery in a fancy carry case?  No.  If you are a person who is on-the-go a lot, you may want to take a few minutes to prep and take some cutlery from home with you.  That doesn’t cost anything because you’ve already got cutlery.  Why buy more?  Do I have some?  Yes.  Why?  Because every year I fly overseas to see my family, and I bring lightweight bamboo cutlery wrapped in a napkin because, um, metal and airplanes aren’t allowed, so I bought it to avoid plastic.

Do you NEED to buy the expensive Swell bottles, KeepCups, KleanKanteens, beautiful tiffins, glassware, etc.?  No!  You can find all sorts of reusable cups and bottles at secondhand stores that are in great condition, at a cheap price.  Stainless steel containers for storage are nice, but not necessary; instead, save the jars your food comes in, and reuse them as storage containers, or cover your bowl with a small plate, or wrap it in a towel.

You can spend a lot of money on fancy things like the aforementioned brands/items.  But you do not NEED these things.  Zero-waste is not about consuming more.  It is about simplifying and doing more with less.

For example, I have not bought the following things for over four years:

  • cling wrap
  • paper towel
  • paper napkins
  • ziploc bags
  • water bottles
  • cotton swabs
  • deodorant
  • lip balm
  • lotion
  • bottled conditioner
  • bottled shampoo
  • dryer sheets
  • bleaches, sprays, wipes, other bottled cleaners

I’m sure there are more.  I have either done without, sustainably replaced, or made my own.  This allows me to avoid entire aisles at grocery stores, which reduces how much time I spend there, and also how much money I spend.

What your zero-waste life looks like is entirely your choice.  You can choose to spend extra money on items, or you can get creative; try to go without, check a secondhand store, or find an alternative method.  There is never just one way of doing things.  Our grandparents didn’t have any of these extra things, and they managed with what they had; my grandparents still led a fulfilled, happy, and loving life, even when they made do with what they had.

What do you think about these gadgets that are advertised to us to “complete” our zero-waste living list?  Do you buy in?  Do you do your best to make do?  What are some gadgets you are grateful for and think are relatively necessary?  Let me know in the comments!

In love and compost,






  1. I love this post. I think about this topic often, especially when I see zero waste blogs with sponsored products or lists of ‘lust-worthy’ (shudder) items. Those can be resources when looking to replace an item, but more often it just leads me to want to get something I don’t need. I like the challenge of trying to use what I already have. For example, I use an old stash of (gasp!) plastic yogurt containers to shop for my dry goods at the Bulk Barn. The containers are lightweight, stack well on my shelves, and since they are transparent the cashiers can easily see what I’m purchasing and I can see what food I have stored. Instead of an airy white kitchen with French canning jars on the shelves, mine looks more like a Warhol painting with ‘Liberte’ yogurt instead of Campbell’s Soup. One thing I did cobble together through purchases is the Klean Kanteen I use to send my son’s soymilk to school. It’s a baby-sized canteen intended for nursing babies, but instead of using the nipple lid I bought a wide-mouthed D-ring lid separately. It’s easy to clean and appropriately sized. I am glad I bought it, and I would even buy a second one for other purposes but I can’t easily find the lids anymore.
    A side note: I have noticed that Hobbits are pretty great at zero waste. When Frodo packed provisions for his journey, he was wrapping up food in cloth and tucking it into his bag. It really can be that simple.


    • Hahahahahaha omg I have a Hobbitses reference on my blog. This is SO exciting! Yes, you’re right, Sam and Frodo have already shown us the way. I also use plastic yogurt tubs (double gasp) to freeze things at home, like soups; again, they’re easy to stack and probably an expensive pain to recycle. My partner still eats a lot of store-bought yogurt, so I am left with the tubs. He didn’t like my homemade yogurt. Grmph! One thing I did buy into was an adjustable water bottle for my babe; it fits different mouth pieces onto an insulated stainless steel bottle, so they have one bottle for longer. One thing I definitely think is a MUST for zero-waste is having a reusable water bottle wherever you go. Thanks for commenting ❤


  2. Dear Nadine, really love your post and we need to spread more awareness around this issue. I completely feel the same, and it makes me cringe to think that it will just become another trend of creating waste of new resources. Yes, I know that companies need to make money, but its time to relook at what we really need as individuals. I have saved over 8,300 Euros in the past 4 years by simply reducing my consumption to bare minimum (I haven’t stopped living!) and making use of what I already have. Its crazy to watch how people now spend money on new stuff just because its made of bamboo, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right?! Thanks for commenting your own experience. There are so many things we do not need, that people think they do. I saw a post the other day, someone was selling clothing, that read, “Closet clean out! Have to make room for new ones!” I scrolled through and they were all in great shape, but I noticed how many of the same there were: 5 hoodies, 5 cardigans, endless sleeveless tops, etc. Overconsumption is definitely still controlling us. Made me sad that it was just “ in with the new, out with the old” without second thought.


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